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Focus on Islamism
Thursday 25th November 2010
Gabriel Latner and the Cambridge Union, Part 2!


Call me crazy but I don't think the good people of the Cambridge Union like Gabriel Latner.

I mentioned yesterday how the Union decided to fine Latner 20% of his vote for violating election rules. That violation consisted of campaigning for votes during an interview with the Cambridge Tab where Latner said:

Anyone who thinks we deserve better should vote for me, because my top priority will be improving the debates, and only inviting the best speakers to participate.

Of course, he appealed the ruling.

In the meantime he also set up a facebook page promoting his candidacy and linked to the offending article in the Tab.

The Union upheld its original decision - and, for the new offence, fined him another 20%. (You can read the judgement here).

So, when people vote tomorrow, Latner will instantly lose 40% of those cast in his favour. It's the kind of electoral rigging that would embarrass even Hosni Mubarak or the Burmese junta.

After his speech in the Union which first caused all this fallout, a number of student societies wrote to the President complaining about Latner.

They simply didn't understand the point he was trying to make - and, it would seem, nor does the Union.

To be honest, I'm finding the whole thing hilarious and there is at least one good thing I can see coming out of this. Latner is a second year student, meaning we can all delight in watching him run again next year, as I suspect he will.

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November 27th, 2010
2:11 AM
there is a point of view that lattner is being targeted by the University because his speech was pro-Israel when he was supposed to be anti-. But my take is different. The real target of Lattner's missile was--THE CAMBRIDGE UNION DEBATING SOCIETY itself, with its pretentious conceit that merely having a motion that vilified, abused and decried Israel would be popular, acceptable and obviously winnable by the proposing side. It was a concession to Lauren Booth to be on the winning side in an intellectual debate in the hallowed halls--and the framers of the proposition never ever dreamed that their dream of a 90% yes vote could be turned into a nightmare because they chose the WRONG WORD! So now Lattner will pay and pay. After all, you can't have a Muslim Communist Foreigner running the world's greatest democracy thereby subverting the very institution he's called upon to defend. Can you?

Yusuf Smith
November 25th, 2010
3:11 PM
Student unions often have rules dictating where and how a candidate for a union post can campaign, in the interests of fairness. If the "Cambridge Tab" had offered all candidates equal space, rather than just one as appears to be the case here, then it would have been different (if the union had agreed to it, as they make the rules). When I was at college in Aberystwyth in the mid-1990s, we were allowed the standard posters, flyers and door-to-door canvassing, and there was a hustings, but we were not allowed to use the Internet, presumably because not everyone had the knowledge or the inclination to use it or to monitor what was going on. Latner knew the rules (or at least should have done) before he entered the election, he broke them, and now has to take the consequences. Punishing a candidate for breaking the rules is not rigging the election.

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About Focus on Islamism

Focus on Islamism is a blog dedicated to analysing and exposing the modern ideological phenomenon known as Islamism.

Shiraz Maher is a writer and broadcaster.

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is a PhD student at King's College, London.  He has contributed to various online and printed publications including, The Daily Telegraph, Lebanon's Daily Star, Standpoint and NOWLebanon. 

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